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Young travelers seek out El Granada’s namesake

By rgordon
Friday, July 13th, 2007 at 6:06 pm in Uncategorized.

On their summer travels, two San Mateo youth found a bit of their county’s inspiration at the foot of Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Ryan De Paula, a self-professed history buff and a soon-to-be senior at Hillsdale High School, decided that a summer trip to Spain with a friend’s family ought to be about more than just sightseeing. De Paula, who spent the first 14 years of his life living in El Granada, realized that his itinerary included a visit to the Coastside town’s namesake, and that he ought to make something of it.

Ryan De Paula “Since I grew up in El Granada, my dad would tell me stories of how (Gaspar de) Portola founded the area,” the 17-year-old said. “Me and my dad came up with the idea to, I guess, bring a historical connection because of the two cities. I thought it would be interesting to do something like that.”

Armed with a letter from San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, whose district includes unincorporated El Granada, and county key chains, De Paula and his friend and fellow Hillsdale student Danny Feuer dropped by Granada’s city hall during their 25-day trip in June. The two posed (above, De Paula is on the left) for a photo by Granada’s flag.

After allaying some initial confusion with the help of a translator, De Paula said, Granada city officials warmly accepted the global greeting.

“They felt honored that an American family would do this,” De Paula said. “They thought it was interesting and showed respect.”

El Granada was developed by the Ocean Shore Railroad in the early 1900’s as a seaside resort for visitors from San Francisco. Its street layout was designed by the architect and city planner Daniel Burnham. Portola, a Spanish soldier and governor of Upper California, was the first to explore the Peninsula in 1769.

De Paula said that Granada officials offered key chains and showed the two travelers the official log book of people from around the world who’ve visited the city of 237,000. Granada is probably best known for the Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace.

De Paula said his trip to Spain was a lot of fun, and that his favorite part was absorbing Spanish culture.

“The lifestyle was a lot different from America,” De Paula said. “It was more laid back. They didn’t live to work.”

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